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Hope Birthday Party

imageTwins Ellie and Braden Hirko had a “Hope Birthday” party for their 8th birthday. In lieu of gifts, they asked their friends and family to contribute donations to Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home. They raised $350! Jeff and Susan Hirko are the proud parents of Ellie and Braden.

We are so thankful for the blessing of families like the Hirkos who choose to invest in the lives of our children here at Hope for Tomorrow. Check out our “Hope Ideas” page on our website for unique opportunities for you and your family to get involved.

Ellie and Braden at their Hope Birthday Party

Ellie and Braden at their Hope Birthday Party

Lulu’s six month birthday and first food!!

8391399236_650e1f6d2fIt’s been a great privilege to watch Lulu grow. We give thanks to God for such a beautiful opportunity. Yesterday, we gave her her first food, cooked blended vegetables. She loved it!

Here you can see the pictures of her eating.

We love you little Lulu!

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Pictures of our Founder’s Visit

The Hope Family PictureIn mid March, Brenda and Jennifer, founders of Hope For Tomorrow Children’s Home, were here in Guatemala visiting.  For Brenda, who hadn’t been here for almost a year, it was especially wonderful because she was able to meet for the first time so many of our new children.  Here are some pictures from there trip.  Enjoy!

Remember, once you click on an image and it enlarges, you can navigate to the next image by clicking on the right side of the image (a “NEXT” button appears) or return to the previous picture by clicking the left side of the image (a “PREV” button appears). When you are done, click the “CLOSE” button or click outside of the picture. 

16th Birthday Blesses Orphans

Recently Jane, a friend of our ministry and adoptive mother, contacted us regarding her daughter who was turning 16 years old.  Usually, the family doesn’t do big birthday celebrations but this year was going to be differente because her daughter Jaqueline wanted to have a party and instead of asking for gifts for herself, wanted everyone to bring a donation for our children.  Here’s the letter she sent out to friends and family:

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope that you will join us in celebrating my 16th birthday.  I am thankful to be celebrating with you here in the United States.  I am blessed to have such a great family and friends that have accepted me when I joined the family through adoption.

There really isn’t anything I want or need for my birthday.  I am thankful for what I already have.  So, in honor of my birthday, I would like to help other children that were not as fortunate as me.  There are many children that were left behind in Guatemala without a family to call their own.  In addition there are many that are starving, have no shoes, clothes, or shelter.

I will be traveling to Guatemala on January 18th… While I am in Guatemala, I will have the opportunity to help other children in need.  I plan to spend time at Hope For Tomorrow orphanage.  My plan is to buy things the kids need and take them out for a day of fun.  Hopefully we can have a pizza party for them, go bowling, or anything else that we can arrange.

So, instead of a birthday present for me, I hope that you might consider contributing to my cause to that together, we can help those who were left behind.

Love,

Jacqueline

What an amazing story of self sacrifice and willingness to serve others.  In the words of her mother, “I am SO PROUD of her for wanting to do this.  She could get a lot of gifts/money at her party but she is willing to forgo that all for other children in Guatemala.”

Fast forward a few weeks and Jaqueline, her sister Karly, and her mother Jane were down in Guatemala celebrating with our children.  Through her birthday party she raised more than $1000 and with that money bought our children school supplies, clothes, and some wonderful gifts for Miguel’s 14th birthday (like an iPod nano!!).  But by far the best part of it all was taking all the children out with the family.  On a Saturday morning we packed the kids in the van and went bowling!  This is one activity we had never done before and the children were really excited.  After bowling and some pizza, we were all still excited and full of adrenaline so before heading home we took a detour to the park and spent some time there just hanging out and playing.  The entire day was incredible and the children had a blast.

We are all so thankful to people like Jaqueline who have put the children of our Home before their own personal wants or desires.  Being able to witness these incredible acts of kindess and grace is encouraging, not to mention the wonderful examples they are for our own children.  We pray that they will learn from people like Jaqueline what it means to “love your neighbor”.  Thank you Jaqueline for your passion, your sacrifice, and the example you are.

Here are some pictures from our bowling adventure.

August and September Updates

Amelia carrying the Guatemala Flag during the independence paradeAugust and September Recap

August and September were activity packed months for the children of Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home.  It started just a few days after we took the older children to the movies in July.  Since we didn’t want to leave the little ones out, together with our volunteer Kristina we organized a trip to Islaventura, a gigantic play place that we have taken the children to in the past (see pictures of our trip to Islaventura here).   The preschoolers had a blast climbing and running around the three story high jungle gym, especially Carlos who feels at home since there are so many places for him to grab ahold of.  This was also a great environment for us to interact with Rosa and Diego since they had just came to our home a few weeks back.  Both of them had constant smiles on their faces and it was evident that they had never experienced something like this before in their lives.  After we returned, the older children were a bit jealous, but we graciously reminded them that they went to the movies just a few days before.  “Oh, yeah, you’re right,” they replied as they recalled the trip.  While it’s fun to do activities with all the children together, it’s also good for us to be able to split the children up and do age appropriate activities with the different groups as well.

Edwins smiling with the clown from his 10th birthdayThe following week, our second oldest Edwin, turned 10 years old.  To make the event unforgettable Kristina lovingly paid for a clown to come to the party.  It was something we had never done with the children and we knew it would be a hit.  However, when the clown came to the home dressed up with his painted face, red nose, and big shoes, Edwin ran away screaming!  He hid behind Blanca, noticeably shook up, as Clown Peace rolled his suitcase of props into the living room.  Diana and I both looked at each other wondering if we had made a huge mistake.  If Edwin didn’t like the clown then the entire party would have been a disaster.  But the clown, very professionally began his show and little by little, Edwin warmed up to him.  It was obvious that this wasn’t the first time the birthday child had been scared of a clown.  Within a matter of minutes, Edwin was volunteering to be the clown’s assistant and spent the show helping him perform “magic” tricks.  Edwin felt like the king of the afternoon, exactly what we wanted!  All of the children (and adults!!) had a blast and it was wonderful to hear, weeks after the party was over, the children still singing the songs they had learned with the clown (see pictures of the party here and watch videos of Edwin’s party here).

Independence Day Parades and Activities

Lidia as the Guatemalan Flag in the school paradeA few weeks later we were in the month of September and all kinds of crazy took place.  September is usually a busy month because Guatemala celebrates its independence on the 15th and most schools have some sort of patriotic activity with their students, be it a parade or presentation.  The school the older children attend has a first class marching band and the entire school participates in some way.  The first graders, where Lidia is, dress up as different representations of cultural aspects of Guatemala.  This year, Lidia was the Guatemalan flag!  The second graders on march normally behind the band, but the students with the highest grades become flag bearers and have the special honor of carrying the different flags in front of the other grades.  This year, we are proud to share that Amelia had that honor, as she had the highest grades among her second grade peers.  It was an incredible feeling to watch Amelia, wearing white gloves, walk with her head high as she carried the flag and led her class in the parade (see pictures of Amelia, Lidia and the parade here).

During all these festivities, Miguel and his fifth grade class were back at the school getting ready for the typical market to begin.  All of the older classes split up in groups with some cooking and selling food and others, like Miguel, putting up decorations.  Everything from the parade to the market afterwards is a wonderful time for the children to not only have fun but also to learn about their country.

Continuing with the independence festivities, the following week our own preschool organized a market day as well.  The morning began with the preschoolers doing some dances common among the indigenous populations.  All the children get dressed up in cultural outfits and they even painted little mustaches on the boys!  After the dances, the children helped make and serve Guatemalan food like “tostadas” (hard corn tortillas with guacamole and cheese in top), “chuchitos” (potato based ball filled with chicken), and “atol de elote” (a thick corn drink that is hot and sweet).  Last year, when we did the market there were only 3 children that participated in the dance.  This year, with the addition of the new children, there were seven!  Oh, how we have grown (see pictures of our Hope Preschool Market Day here).

Edwin and his dance partnerThe special school activities came to an end with Edwin’s school and their presentations.  Like last year, Edwin participated in a cultural dance, but this year he was paired with a girl!  It was adorable to see Edwin and his partner dancing away.  By far they were the cutest couple (see pictures of Edwin here and watch him dance here)!

To the Park

As the month of September was coming to an end we did one final activity with the children, taking advantage of the fact the children were out of school due to the presidential election.  We always like to take the children on new adventures so this time we went to a huge park outside the city (see pictures of our trip to the park here) on the way to Antigua.  Unfortunately when we arrived it began to drizzle and we were sure it was going to ruin the morning.  Thankfully, within a few minutes it let up, the clouds parted, and the sun began to shine.  While we have gone to parks before in the past, this was by far the biggest and the children really let loose.  They were running around enjoying the freedoms on the great outdoors.  Lidia, bless her heart, fell down about a half dozen times, since the ground was a bit slick from the recent rain.  And being the rather sensitive person she is, she probably spent half of the time crying on Diana’s shoulder!

Group picture at the parkAbout half way through the morning we got a group basketball game together and it was fun playing as a family, passing the ball back and forth and helping each other score.  A little later, we played some hide and seek and during one round, Diana laid 2 year old Daniel on a tree trunk that was slanted at almost a 90 degree angle.  It was hilarious because he fit perfectly on the trunk and laid there as still as he could as he waited for someone to find him.  When someone did find him he would just giggle and grin.

Goodbye Daniel

September came to an end with a bittersweet moment as we took Daniel to his court hearing. After spending the past three months with us, it was now a judge’s decision on whether or not Daniel would stay with us or if he would go home with his family.  During Daniel’s time with us his family visited every moment they could and they were heartbroken when they had to leave.  The only peace they had was knowing Daniel was in a wonderful children’s home and was receiving great care.  By the time the court appearance came, it was evident that Daniel needed to be with his family.  Thankfully, after a short, but nerve-racking hearing, the judge ruled in favor of the family and Daniel could finally go home.   Tears of joy streamed from his mothers eyes as she embraced her son.  She repeatedly thanked us for everything we did for Daniel and all we could say is that it was a privilege for us to play such a crucial role in the life of this family.

Daniel smilingThe experience with Daniel has truly encouraged us and has given us a new perspective on our ministry.  We have come to see that we are not only called to restore the lives of orphan children, but also the lives of entire families.  To children that have been orphaned and abandoned, we have become their family.  One by one, with the direction and power of God, we are restoring their lives and giving them the opportunity to become the men and women God has called them to be.  But for other children like Daniel, that are only with us a short time, it is evident that they have been placed with us so we can help restore their broken families.  We have the opportunity to not only minister to the child but also the mother, father, aunts and uncles.  Many times the mistreatment that a child receives at home is because the parents themselves are hurt and burdened and we have the privilege to speak truth to their lives and watch as the Lord repairs the brokenness.  What an incredible honor and calling.

Jennifer’s 50th HOPE Birthday

Jennifer's 50th Birthday InvitationMost people don’t look very forward to their 50th birthday. I was certainly one of those people. However, my 50th birthday turned out to be a red letter day for me. Co-Founder of Hope for Tomorrow, Brenda Riddle worked with my family and friends to throw me a surprise party that I will long remember. Around 50 of my family, friends, and co-workers surprised me at the Alumni House at the University of Kentucky on April 28th. We had wonderful hors devours, birthday cake, and a special slide show developed by my “longest” friend, Rita Rector. The biggest surprise of the evening was a special performance by my second family; the children of Hope for Tomorrow. They sang “Happy Birthday” to me in both Spanish and English. The children prepared a choreographed dance for me and each child introduced him or herself to my friends in Lexington. I felt so blessed to share this important day with my entire family. In honor of the occasion, Brenda asked that attendees make a donation to Hope for Tomorrow in lieu of birthday gifts. I am excited to report that my HOPE Birthday party raised nearly $2,000 for the children’s home.

This was not the first HOPE Birthday party in my family. When our son Kendall turned 11, he decided to forego gifts and asks friends to make a donation in his honor to Hope for Tomorrow. With the help of party-planner and steering committee member Diane Haynes, we had a carnival at my sister’s farm and invited his entire 5th grade class. The children played “roulette”, corn hole, and other carnival games. In return for their success at the games, children earned tickets that they could “cash in” at the store we set up. There they could “buy” candy, toys, and trinkets with their tickets. At Kendall’s party, $400 was raised.

If you are looking for a creative way to celebrate someone’s special birthday, consider a Hope Birthday Party. It is a wonderful way to honor someone’s commitment to children in a way they will never forget. Please contact any of us on the steering committee if you need ideas!

Jennifer's 50th Birthday Invitation

Jennifer's 50th Birthday Invitation

 

Kendall's Birthday

Kendall's HOPE Birthday Party

Feliz Cumpleaños Edwin

Clown Peace and EdwinToday was a very special day for all of us- it was Edwins 10th Birthday!  We celebrated with a clown that came to the Children’s Home and entertained all the children and adults.  We all laughed and enjoyed it very much.  We also celebrated with cake of course, which was something Edwin was really looking forward to.

It was so nice to be able to celebrate the life of someone so special.  Edwin is such a blessing to be around.  He is very loving and compassionate and it was great for all of us to have the opportunity to share such an important day for him.  He is growing into a wonderful young man.

Here are some photos from the day.

Remember, once you click on an image and it enlarges, you can navigate to the next image by clicking on the right side of the image (a “NEXT” button appears) or return to the previous picture by clicking the left side of the image (a “PREV” button appears). When you are done, click the “CLOSE” button or click outside of the picture. 

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Hope For Tomorrow Children's Home
135 Lackawanna Rd.
Lexington, KY 40503
T: 859-276-6249
F: 859-276-5570